THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Best radio ads

1. Ginsters "sexline"

Anyone who's ever been tempted to ring a telephone sex line should be forced to listen to this ad first, because it undoubtedly contains a universal truth: the people on the other end of the line are not the beautiful sex goddesses and gods they might appear to be from the ads (ads that hold a false promise, now there's a thing). With a wickedly funny, yet simple, script, this Ginsters "sexline" ad uses the theme of honesty to shatter such dreams and illusions. The idea of the beautiful woman panting at the prospect of phone sex with the caller is dashed by the presence of a Ginsters pie, which prompts the woman to reveal exactly what is on the other end of that telephone call. It was a worthy winner of the Aerials gold award 2003.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Creative: Steve Robertson and Justin Moore

Producer : Michelle Kendrick

Sound: Tony Rapaccioli, Rave


(The "honest" character is talking with her mouth full.)

Phone girl: So what does my big, strong loverman want me to do for him?

Punter: Tell me what you look like.

Phone girl: I've got dank, mousy hair, hips that are spreading like an oil slick, three chins and I'm wearing leggings.

SFX: Phone line goes dead.

VO: Ginsters. Real honest food.

2. COI/DOH - adult sexual health awareness "chlamydia"

Now there's nothing big and there's nothing clever about chlamydia, and you might well think there's nothing funny about it either. But this ad from Delaney Lund Knox Warren uses some superb humour to grab attention for a subject that might otherwise be too preachy. The idea was to reach young people who might be tuning in as they were getting ready for a night out.

Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

Creative: Ken Sara and John Elsom

Producer: Hannah Webster

Sound: Neil Harrington, Grand Central


SFX: Drum roll

MV1: (enthusiastic, cheesy gameshow presenter style)

Yes, if you have sex without a condom, you're playing ...

SFX: The "sex lottery" jingle.

MV1: Which of 25 sexually transmitted infections could you pick up tonight?


SFX: Fanfare.

MV1: Keep your S T-eye on this one, 'cos you might not know you've got it. Leave it too late and you could have pelvic inflammatory disease, scarring of the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancy or, for women and men: infertility!

SFX: Naff organ salute followed by a clash of cymbals.

MVO: Don't play the sex lottery. Use a condom. For more advice visit or call 0800 567123.

3. Radio Advertising Bureau "radio psychologist"

There's something highly appropriate in the fact that the Radio Advertising Bureau manages to make some of the better ads on the radio. The RAB's mission is to promote the effectiveness and creative potential of the medium to the marketing community, but while the topic might leave the general listener a little confused, the scripts are always a treat.

Agency: Eardrum

Creative: Anthony Bryan, Martin Sims, Ralph van Dijk

Producer: Janet Clarke

Sound: Matt Roberts, Bridge


Chris: Radio is often described as the theatre of the mind, only without the uncomfortable seats. One person who knows why this theatre's audience is growing is media expert and psychologist Dr Sophie Brennanman.

SFX: Private office atmosphere

Chris: Doctor Brennanman.

Sophie: How can I help?

Chris: Oh, umm, well I find clowns a bit scary, but ...

Sophie: The interview.

Chris: Oh, sorry, I thought ... As an expert, why do you think radio audiences are growing?

Sophie: Well, radio's always been accessible - in our car, bathroom, in shops, at work - but now with new technology you see kids listening on mobiles and games consoles. It follows us everywhere just like ...

Chris: Voices in your head.

Sophie: A constant companion.

Chris: Of course.

Sophie: And, like a friend, you choose your station carefully, because it's a very personal medium. I mean, if I said radio to you, you might say ...

Chris: Mother.

Sophie: Mother?

Chris: Lipstick.

Sophie: What?

Chris: Lightbulb.

Sophie: You've lost me.

Chris: (emotionally) Abandoned! (pause)

Sophie: Are you OK?

Chris: Radio advertising, now it's even more accessible it really is the harder-working clown - huh! - medium. Find out more at

(starts to whimper)

Sophie: There, there.

4. Hamlet "Tony and Milo"

When the tobacco ad ban finally took effect in February, no-one gave much of a thought to the poor creative teams for whom tobacco campaigns meant food on the table. The cdp-travissully Hamlet swansong from Tony Burke and Milo Cambell plucked at the heartstrings and proved a fitting sign-off to one of the best-loved and most entertaining ad campaigns in the history of radio advertising.

Agency: cdp-travissully

Creative: Tony Burke and Milo Cambell

Producer: Simon Sole

Sound: Rohan Young


SFX: Studio atmosphere

MV1: Hi, I'm Tony Burke.

MV2: And I'm Milo Cambell.

MV1: And we're a creative team at advertising agency cdp-travissully

working almost exclusively on tobacco advertising.

MV2: It's our speciality. We barely work on anything else.

MV1: Unfortunately, Milo, as of midnight tonight, tobacco advertising

will be banned.

MV2: So what do we do now?


SFX: Matchstrike.

Music: Air on a G-String.

VO: Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet. The mild cigar.

5. National Aids Trust "child minder"

Aids is not an easy subject to handle, particularly on the intimate and intrusive radio medium. And holding attention across a 90-second radio ad is a real challenge. But Saatchi & Saatchi managed to draw in listeners with an intriguing and thought-provoking script, the denouement of which is both surprising and effective. And it won in the best charity category at the Aerial Awards.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

Creative: Keith Terry and Julian Dyer

Producer: Nicola Warman-Johnston

Sound: Dave McPhee, Space, and Neil Harrington, Grand Central


Sound effects: Dialogue Houshold sound effects:A cup of tea being stirred. Swallowing coffee.

The rustle of papers being handed over.

MVO: You're interviewing two smartly dressed young women for the job of looking after your kids.

Listen to their answers to these three questions, then make your choice.

One: do you have any experience with children?

Jill: Well, I've got a little sister and I used to babysit her a lot.

Lucy: Yeah, um, I've got quite a bit of experience ... I've got a BTEC National Diploma in social care and I've got four years of pre-school training.

MVO: Okay, don't make your mind up just yet. Question two: do you have any references?

Jill: (annoyed) No. Do you really need them? I don't think I've got any.

Lucy: Yeah, I've got some letters here from the four families that I worked for when I was a live-in nanny.

SFX: Dialogue.The sound of children playing happily - splashing in water, laughing, running around.

MVO: Before you make a decision, listen to their responses to this final question: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

Jill: Oh, er, I can't do Fridays because I go out clubbing on a Thursday and it'll be a bit hard for me to get up, y'know?

Lucy: I like to, er, swim and read and I like to cook.

Child: I got a magic wand!

Lucy: Oh beautiful! (giggles)

MVO: Has that settled it for you?

Lucy: Just to let you know - I'm HIV positive.

MVO: Or has that?

(A beat of silence)

HIV can't be transmitted by changing nappies, giving piggy-back rides, holding hands or sharing cutlery. You're about as likely to contract HIV from day-to-day contact with someone who's HIV positive as you are to catch it from the sound of my voice. And yes, I am HIV positive.

Are you HIV prejudiced?

Lucy: To learn the facts, visit: By ending ignorance, we'll end prejudice.

6. COI/DOH - adult sexual health awareness "gonorrhoea"

Next up on the menu of nasty things that can happen down below if you throw your condoms to the wind: gonorrhoea. Another leg-crosser in the "sex lottery" series, has any other ad in the history of advertising managed to get "rectal", "discharge", "cervix" and "testicles" into one script?

Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

Creative: Ken Sara and John Elsom

Producer: Hannah Webster

Sound: Neil Harrington, Grand Central


SFX: Drum roll

MV1: (enthusiastic, cheesy gameshow presenter style)

Yes, if you have sex without a condom, you're playing ...

SFX: The "sex lottery" jingle.

MV1: Which of 25 sexually transmitted infections could you pick up tonight?


SFX: Fanfare.

MV1: Yes- try some discharge for starters, or how about some rectal bleeding!

Girls - be the talk of the town with an inflamed cervix! Chaps - watch your old chap disappear next to your severely inflamed testicles! It'll change your life!

SFX: Naff organ salute followed by a clash of cymbals.

MVO: Don't play the sex lottery. Use a condom. For more advice visit or call 0800 567123.

7. NatWest "direct line to branch"

An ad to make you wince with recognition and one that should make most banks blush with shame. The script features a man trying to get hold of the phone number for his local branch and builds the frustration beautifully to a crescendo of painful helplessness.

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Creative: Duncan Timms and Will Bate

Producer: Lesley Queen

Sound: Production Factory


MV1: Good morning sir, my name's Peter, how can I help you?

MV2: Hi, I'd like to speak to someone at my local branch please.

MV1: I'm awfully sorry sir, it's not our policy to give out branch


MV2: But the branch I'm talking about is just down the road, it's in the

high street. Could I actually be put directly through now?Can't you just

give me the number?

MV1: No.

MV2: Well ...

MV1: No.

MV2: But ...

MV1: No.

MV2: Sorry, I'm a bit confused because ...

MV1: No.

MV2: I'm trying to sort out a loan ...

MV1: No.

MV2: Umm ... err ...

VO: Tired of not being able to speak to your branch? There is another

way. At NatWest, our customers get a direct line to their local branch.

8. Honda "big grin"

This ad deserves applause for the choice of Garrison Keillor as voiceover alone. The fact that it's a lovely, laconic, soothing script that flies in the face of the machismo usually associated with car ads is merely waxing on the bonnet.

Agency: Wieden & Kennedy

Creative: Richard Russell

Producer: Charlie Tinson

Sound: Aaron Reynolds, Wave


Garrison Keillor: Would you buy a car from a man with a big, toothy grin, who said he believed in the power of dreams?Probably not.

But what if that man was also the president of a really big company?

Yet the kind of president who refused to have a personal parking space.

And encouraged his employees to have ideas rather than make money. An important man with the common touch, who wore a dirty overall instead of a fancy suit. A man who, if he was alive today, would be horrified that we were talking about the past, instead of getting excited about the future. (Pause)

A wise man once said: "The day I stop dreaming is the day I die."

His name was ... Soichiro Honda.

9. KFC - Popcorn Chicken "polite"

A million miles from the KFC advertising heritage, the Bartle Bogle Hegarty work has given the takeaway chicken brand some attitude and, as here, a sense of humour.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Creative: Sam Oliver and Shishir Patel

Producer: Charlotte Lawrence

Sound: Ben Leeves


Grandma: Here's your tea, luv, and I cut you some cake.

Grandson: No cake for me gran.

Grandma: Oh go on.

Grandma: No, really.

Grandma: Oh, go on.

Grandson: No.

Grandma: Oh ...

Out of nowhere in this polite dialogue the grandson loses it, as if somebody is trying to force him to eat a bucket of worms.

Grandson: No! I don't want it! I don't want it! You ddddurh ...

(The grandson lapses into silence. There's a shocked pause before we hear the grandma sobbing. Then a voiceover kicks in.)

VO: When you've snacked on KFC's Popcorn Chicken - tender pieces of real chicken in a crispy coating - you can kiss goodbye to cake.

10. Prudential - The Plan from the Pru "skids"

The Prudential campaign was perfect for the radio medium. The use of quirky, funny, emotional poetry achieved enormous stand-out and the intimate nature of the medium complemented the very personal nature of the poetry.

Agency: WCRS

Writer: Stef Jones

Creative directors: Tom Burnay and Steph Jones

Producer: Barney Buxton

Sound: Tape Gallery


No one can fathom,

Nobody knows,

It's simply a mystery

Where the money goes.

I went to the cash point

This morning at ten,

Took out fifty quid and

Went back home again.

I popped into Tesco's,

Bought fish for the cat,

And half filled a basket

With this and with that.

I bought a few flowers

To brighten the house;

Just a couple of bunches

And one for the spouse.

I paid off the daily,

Gave ten to the kids,

And wouldn't you know it,

I'm back on the skids.

MVO: If you'd like a better idea of where your money goes, get yourself a plan from the Pru - the impartial, step-by-step guide to planning your financial future.

Call Prudential on 0800 000 000. Calls may be recorded.

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